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Blueprint Pillar 1:
Early Childhood Education

Recognizing that a child’s early years are the most critical period for brain development and set the foundation for lifelong learning and achievement, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future emphasizes equitable early education opportunities that prepare all children for school and for success. Investment in high-quality early childhood education and learning experiences means more equitable opportunities for children across the state to succeed as they begin their school careers. Building on research studies that have proved the academic benefits of Pre-K, the Blueprint expands full-day Pre-K access so that all children are ready to learn and be successful when they enter kindergarten. The Blueprint also increases the number of Judy Centers and Patty Centers and increases the number of educators in early childhood as well as high-quality early care and learning experiences.

Blueprint Statutory Highlights

Expanding Quality Options for Families

The Blueprint granted all three- and four-year-old children from families earning incomes at or below 300% Federal Poverty Level access to high-quality full-day Pre-K at no cost. The Maryland State Department of Education will ensure that families are aware of all Pre-K options available to them and the process for enrolling in the option chosen by the family.


Pre-K Expansion Grants

The Prekindergarten Expansion Grant is a competitive grant program administered by Maryland State Department of Education. It provides funding for local education agencies and private providers to administer high-quality prekindergarten.


Child Care Scholarship Program

Maryland has raised the income requirements for families from 65% of State Median Income to 75% in the Child Care Scholarship program. Now a family of four can earn up to $90,033 per year and still qualify for assistance.


Judy Centers

Judy Centers utilize a multigenerational approach to provide wraparound services for families and children, as well as provide professional development for early childhood educators. The Blueprint expands Judy Centers throughout Maryland and includes nine additional Judy Centers each year for the next five fiscal years and 18 per year for the following five fiscal years.


Maryland EXCELS

This program is Maryland's quality rating and improvement system for child care, Head Start, and school-based prekindergarten programs. It helps child care and early education programs increase and maintain quality and assists families in finding quality child care and early education programs.


Raising Standards and Investing in Supports

In addition to a significant expansion of access to prekindergarten programs, the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future puts a strong emphasis on improving the quality of existing and new programs.


Featured Report

Prekindergarten Implementation Planning

November 2021

The State of Maryland has long demonstrated significant investment in early learning. The Blueprint seeks to develop a robust mixed-delivery system of early childhood programs and services to support families and their young children, support the early childhood workforce, address special needs, and promote high-quality early childhood experiences. This report outline the steps the Maryland State Department of Education is taking to support scaling high-quality early childhood education experiences.

Maryland Early Learning Standards

Maryland’s Early Learning Standards define the key aspects of development for children from birth through Pre-K (4-year-old) entry, serving as the backbone of the state’s educational framework. These standards reflect a commitment to inclusivity and diversity, addressing the varied needs of all children. They are aligned with the College & Career Readiness Standards and the Blueprint for Maryland’s Future, ensuring a seamless integration with MSDE’s broader educational objectives. The standards provide clear guidance for educators to create developmentally appropriate learning experiences, while also empowering families to actively engage in their child’s education through transparent communication and meaningful partnerships.

View the Early Learning Standards